Gold nanorods have several outstanding characteristics as optical contrast agents for biomedical imaging. Their strong optical absorption at near-infrared (NIR) frequencies can be used to generate contrast for optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging, and is well matched for detection modalities based on differential albedo. Nanorods can also be imaged directly by two-photon luminescence (TPL) with single-particle sensitivity, and are sufficiently bright to support in vivo imaging applications. TPL imaging has been used to study the uptake of ligand-functionalized nanorods by tumor cells. Lastly, nanorods are excellent converters of light energy into heat, with direct application in photothermal therapy.
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